Down on the Farm

A few of us visited a farm to look for some uncommon migrants. We had no luck with those migrants but it was an interesting side trip. This post has more mammals than birds, a change of pace from my usual entries.

We visited the Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm, a National Historic Landmark, in Newbury, Massachusetts. There are several fields that are actively cultivated and migrant birds will visit them after harvest. Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm also fosters animals in partnership with the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. I couldn’t pass up a chance to snap some photos of the residents. The number one resident is this very friendly farm cat who greeted me as soon as I got out of my Jeep. It escorted us for the entire time we were at the farm. It’s main job is rodent control but it is a “bird watcher” too. We hope it concentrates on the mice.

This is a selection of the animals living in the compound. The goats and sheep were quietly browsing. The horse and donkey ran over to apparently see if we had any treats. The donkey was constantly trying to bite the horse, who promptly tried to kick it. They were much quieter later so maybe we triggered a rivalry for attention.

The cat patrolled the fields as we walked. And so did a Red-tailed Hawk. There are plenty of tasty rodents where there are crops and feed for the animals.

While we didn’t see our target birds, there were lots of Pipets in the fields. These are extremely widespread in the world with species located everywhere except Antarctica.

Our cat friend got a bit too interested in one of the Pipets and a member of the group startled the Pipet into flight. Cats are skilled hunters and kill large numbers of birds and small mammals. While this farm cat has a productive role in the farm environment, house cats can be a significant problem in parks and suburbs. It can be a dangerous world for them as well so it is best to keep them close to home.

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